RAC Cars News


MPG Marathon 2016: 50mpg in an all-wheel drive Audi

By raccars Published

Audi - RAC

The annual MPG Marathon is run by company car experts Fleet World in association with the RAC. This year, we took part in something a little different – not a diesel hatchback, not a hybrid saloon, but a petrol-powered all-wheel drive mid-size Audi estate car. Just how would the fuel economy of this 252-horsepower premium car stack up?

Fill Up

Because the MPG Marathon is Britain’s only scientifically-run fuel economy challenge, we’d find out precisely. The rules are simple: drive a car for two days over a set route as economically as possible, reaching waypoints along the way within a target time allocation. But the science behind it is anything but…

Our car for the next two days was an Audi A4 allroad 2.0 TFSI 252 quattro. It has a raised ride height and all-wheel drive for good ground-crossing ability, and a potent turbo petrol engine for swift performance. With five roomy seats, a luxury interior and a big boot, it’s one of Audi’s most capable all-rounders. Was it up to delivering good fuel economy, though – indeed, could we beat the official figures and hit 50mpg in this swift all-roads express?

We had plenty to help us. The Audi was fitted with an automatic transmission, boasting an eco-saving efficiency mode. It’s even linked up to the sat nav so will change gears to suit the road ahead (how futuristic is that?). The all-wheel drive system automatically disconnects the rear wheels when it’s not needed as well, ensuring energy isn’t wasted. And the turbocharged engine delivers enough pulling power low down in the rev range to mean we would never have to work it hard.

Audi - RAC - Pit

Add in sat nav directing us across the entire route, and everything was in place to help us post a good result. All we had to do was drive economically. Which meant? Maintaining progress, looking ahead to predict the traffic conditions, not accelerating and decelerating unnecessarily, simply being a smooth and as measured as possible.

It’s a type of driving that sounds boring, but it isn’t. Because you have to be so focused, concentration levels must be ultra-high. It’s not about ultimate speed, but the thrill is still there because you’re looking to maximise the momentum of the car and minimise the amount of time you press the accelerator.

Adopting this mindset meant the miles flew past. We had to average 30mph, which ensured we couldn’t crawl along in top gear all day long – we had to make progress and get from point to point within the allocated time. It may not have had the speed of a special stage rally, but it certainly had the engagement. Always in the back of our mind was the fact we’d be penalised half an MPG on our final score for every single minute we were late…

Two days and almost 450 miles of this passed quickly and without incident. The RAC support crews were not needed, luckily, and it was with anticipation we rolled into the final stage for a specialist RAC crew to unseal our fuel tank and top up the fuel tank again. The exact amount of fuel that went in was recorded, divided against our total mileage and our overall economy calculated. Which was…

Audi - RAC - Dashboard

… A very healthy 50.47mpg! Compared to the official claimed average of 44.1mpg for the Audi Allroad, this was an improvement of 14.5% - which not only proves that you can hit the claimed average economy out on the road, but careful driving can deliver a decent improvement over it.

We didn’t employ any special tricks. We didn’t drive dangerously slowly and didn’t coast down hills or crawl up them. We simply drove efficiently, smartly, carefully. The result was hitting our target 50mpg and proving that even powerful all-wheel drive Audis can post great economy if you drive them sensible.

That was us then. What sort of economy can you get from your own car by adopting some of the simple techniques above?

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars